Long Beach area youth baseball and softball leagues in and around the city have once again compiled a list of impressive accomplishments this summer. They’ve chosen their best players in different age groups, and those All-Star teams have won tournaments all over California.
Maybe the most impressive has been the Long Beach PONY Baseball 14U All-Stars, who have outscored their 12 opponents 140-25 while winning the District and Central Region tournaments.
“We have a powerhouse of a squad that is the deepest in my memory,” PONY president and manager Ken Jakemer said. “We’ve got great pitching, tremendous defense, and an unyielding offense that can be downright frightening.”
These 14U All-Stars hosted the Central Regionals last month and beat Costa Mesa 14-4 in the championship game at their own Whaley Park.
With a team batting average of .425 and team ERA of 1.34, it’s easy to see why Long Beach PONY has been so good. They’ve hit eight home runs and struck out 88 batters in 73 innings. Long Beach has also been a terror on the base paths with 39 stolen bases and only five caught stealing.
Jakemer said that an influx of talent from a local travel team that broke up has bolstered the ranks.
“Returning players were also granted a second year as a 13- or 14-year-old after a PONY league age change before the season,” he said. “That lifted the talent pool up quite a bit, and we had a good group of returning players.”
Will McCullough has led the offense with a team-high 23 hits and 17 RBI in three tournaments. Brody Beck and Nixon Hunt have also been great at the plate with a combined 34 hits and 30 RBI.
Garrett McCloud and Dylan Cappell have been phenomenal up the middle defensively, while catchers Connor Cassidy and Anton Romo have handled 10 different pitchers.
The Long Beach PONY 14U All-Stars finished second in the Super-Region tournament in Simi Valley last weekend, and this weekend they’ll be in the West Zone tournament in West Covina.
Heartwell Fastpitch 10U Gold All-Stars
The 10U Gold All-Star softball team from Heartwell Fastpitch reached the SoCal State Championships after taking home trophies from all five tournaments this summer. They went undefeated in the LA/South Bay Championship.
Lakewood Village Little League 11U All-Stars
The Lakewood Village Little League 11U All-Stars won the District 38 Championship last month by beating Long Beach 6-5 in extra innings of the title game.
Lakewood Village used impeccable defense and phenomenal pitching by Cason Clark and Evan Raleigh to stay in control throughout the tournament. David Mancha and Henry Aguas provided the key hits.
In the championship win over Long Beach, Lakewood Village’s ace Evan Raleigh laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt and Paul Sangkarat would score the winning run.
Los Altos 9s All-Stars
The Los Altos 9s All-Star baseball team out of El Dorado Park in Long Beach claimed the Cal Ripken SoCal State title last month in Simi Valley, punching their ticket to the Cal Ripken Regionals in Tulare where they competed against the best teams from Hawaii, Guam, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. They lost in the semifinals.
In the championship game in Simi Valley, Los Altos defeated the Beach City Cyclones 4-3 in an extra innings thriller. Lucas Miller pitched five shutout innings for Los Altos, scattering two hits and striking out six, as his team built a 2-0 lead as Gannon Wells doubled in Mateo Valadez and Evan Gallo sacrificed Carson Prince in.
The Cyclones took the lead in the top of the sixth inning, going up 3-2. Los Altos answered in the bottom of the sixth with their backs against the wall, as Oliver O’Connor smacked a line-drive double to left center to score Prince, tying it up at 3-3 and forcing extra innings.
Valadez got two strikeouts to end the top of the seventh and give Los Altos a chance to walk it off. Singles by Jesse Tolen, Jack Murphy, and Valadez loaded the bases with just one out, and Wells ended the game with a walkoff single that scored Tolen to give Los Altos the 4-3 victory.
6th Tool 12s
The 6th Tool 12s travel baseball team based out of the Los Altos program at El Dorado Park had a successful summer, capped with a win at the NCS San Diego World Series last month. The Long Beach kids had a great tournament and brought home the Division 1 championship.
This is just a small selection of teams to highlight, so please visit the562.org for more stories about local youth sports.